Ivanov ends his chess career

10/5/2013 – On Thursday we reported that FM Borislav Ivanov had forfeited his round seven game after he refused to take off his shoes and allow the arbiter to check for hidden devices. His opponent in that round, GM Maxim Dlugy, provided all the details. Ivanov was permitted to continue in rounds eight and nine, but now has announced that he will retire from chess, as the Bulgarian new outlet Blitz reports.

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"New scandal over Borislav Ivanov – Chess player refuses test, is banned," says the headline of the above BLITZ Bulgaria article: A grand scandal has come to the International Grand Blagoevgrad 2013 tournament. The scandal-ridden Borislav Ivanov refused to obey the tournament director, who had suspicions regarding a hidden device in his shoe. Ivanov refused to take his shoes off for inspection and forfeited his game against American millionaire (sic!) Maxim Dlugy. Under the rules of the tournament Ivanov is obliged to comply with the decision of the organizers, and may be searched.

"Infamous end of Borislav Ivanov's career" says this BLITZ article, which show the Blugarian FM being searched with a metal detector. Borislav Ivanov, who has acquired considerable notoriety, has announced the end of his career. As previously mentioned, for his seventh round game Ivanov refused to obey the tournament director, who wanted to examine his shoes for hidden devices. "My opponent wanted me to take off my shoes and socks. I refused because I knew it would not stop there. I will not participate in any more tournaments because I will not be allowed to do so. They will punish me for everything – for improper breathing to poor posture," he complained. "I've already gotten used to it, my career as a chess player is over. The psychological front against me is too strong, you cannot take it. I wanted to be a GM, but apparently that is not going to happen."

The Blagoevgrad tournament was won by Ivan Saric of Croatia. He walked away with a check for 10,000 lev. Second was his compatriot Mladen Palac. Because of the participation of Ivanov the Blagoevgrad Grand Open 2013 tournament was boycotted by almost all of the Bulgarian chess elite. The event took place under exceptional security measures: in the playing hall there were special devices to jam wireless GSM signals.

Final top ranking (after nine rounds of play)

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg Pts. w-we K rtg+/-
1 1 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2627 7.0 0.12 10 1.2
2 4 GM Palac Mladen CRO 2562 7.0 0.83 10 8.3
3 3 GM Petkov Vladimir BUL 2564 7.0 0.39 10 3.9
4 6 GM Drenchev Petar BUL 2488 7.0 0.37 10 3.7
5 9 IM Kukov Velislav BUL 2410 7.0 1.21 10 12.1
6 8 GM Drazic Sinisa SRB 2461 7.0 0.57 10 5.7
7 2 GM Sedlak Nikola SRB 2581 6.5 0.19 10 1.9
8 38 Kesidis Odyseas GRE 2119 6.5 1.50 15 22.5
9 34 Ninov Dayan BUL 2140 6.5 2.50 15 37.5
10 5 GM Dlugy Maxim USA 2524 6.0 -0.71 10 -7.1
11 11 IM Cvetkovic Srdjan SRB 2360 6.0 0.44 10 4.4
12 7 GM Vasilev Milen BUL 2487 6.0 0.00 10 0.0
13 13 GM Spassov Liuben BUL 2327 6.0 0.17 10 1.7
14 20 NM Stoinev Metodi BUL 2221 6.0 1.60 10 16.0
15 14 FM Ivanov Borislav BUL 2324 6.0 0.94 15 14.1
16 31 Vaklinov Vasil FRA 2144 6.0 1.46 15 21.9
17 12 FM Dinev Dejan MKD 2346 6.0 -0.36 10 -3.6
18 30 Evstatiev Georgi BUL 2147 6.0 1.14 15 17.1
19 27 Mourelatos Ilias GRE 2154 6.0 0.46 15 6.9
20 18 FM Veleski Robert MKD 2264 6.0 -1.38 15 -20.7

Replay all Ivanov games from Blagoevgrad

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Official Tournament siteAll games so far in zipped PGN

Feedback from our readers

Richard Mallett, Eaton Bray, Dunstable, UK
So now, all they have to do at tournaments is examine shoes and jackets - presumably a sweep with a metal detector would be enough.

Kåre Kristensen, Denmark
What a well told story from Dlugy – and what a relief for 99,9% of all chess players that this horrible guy finally was caught with a smoking gun. Or smelly shoes. I hope we have heard the last of him and that this will scare the very few chessplayers who will even consider cheating.

Helmut Grass, Frankfurt
Tal, Karpov and Anand managed to win games against GMs using almost no time on the clock. Most probably this Ivanov is not one of them. But I want real evidence, no statistics or Houdini bs, please! If you think it's in his shoes then go for them – even if they're smelly!

Jorge Shinozaki, Tokyo, Japan
I'm happy to see Ivanov's secret has been discovered. I think chess tournament organizers should take energetic action to ensure people think twice before cheating.

Julian Wan, Ann Arbor, USA
Very interesting article. GM Dlugy made several shrewd observations. It may be worth asking experts from the casino world since they have dealt with people trying to bring in computer devices to play blackjack, craps and other games. Finally, the observation that the real cheating scandal is that someone very strong could be using it without anyone being aware – recall that the bicyclists who admitted to using PEDs in the Tour de France were all superb riders to begin with.

Inda Anebira, Abuja, Nigeria
I could only sigh in disappointment at ChessBase after reading this article. This is irresponsible journalism! You even went to great lengths to stick a phone in a shoe just to make your case creating, instead, a ridiculous conclusion to a rambling, speculative, and verbose article. As a chess player, do I feel Ivanov is cheating? Yes. But as a scientist, have I seen any definitive proof that he is? No, I have not. So until someone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is indeed cheating, we need to refrain from publicly slandering him. His grandmaster detractors can either choose to play him or avoid him. As with 'The Turk' in the 18th Century, some had their doubts. But they played against it anyway, at least until the secret was unraveled. GM Dlugy is entitled to his own set of opinions but not to his own set of facts.

Jiri, Czech Republic
Good article; I have no doubt that Ivanov is a cheater. However, as a 2200 player I feel insulted by the Dlugy's statement that it is shocking to wave off a draw offer from GM on move 13. I would do it as well - most of us play chess for fun, and to spend a Sunday or vacation by playing a 13-move draw is far from it. So Maxim, when we meet over the board, do not be surprised that even without any engine I will play for win (and probably lose ).

Paul, NJ. USA
You bet I can't believe it. I would like to get the take of the organizer on this story. It is outrageous that he got paired the next round after he refused to take off his shoes. The GM should not have to go to this length to get an organizer to do his job. It's time for FIDE to ban this guy for life. The whole story including the unrelated shot of the phone inside the shoe reads like CB April's fool prank.

Gene Milener, Seattle WA, USA
I feel like we were misled in all those earlier articles about the cheatings of Borislav Ivanov. We were told he was searched in multiple tournaments before October 2013. But now we hear those searches were incompetent, that they did not include his shoes?? In America even a non-suspicious person cannot board an airplane without his shoes being inspected. And after Ivanov was caught the officials paired him in the next round?? Unbelievable.

Max, Hawaii
Wow. Are you guys serious? This article is kind of irresponsible. You proved nothing and acted as if you caught the guy red-handed. It is interesting he won't take his shoes off, and you are free to speculate. But please don't act like you busted him. Also the concept that he can control chess software with his feet is laughable. I am wondering about the sanity and morality of a lot of involved parties, and Ivanov is not at the top of the list. How awful if he is just some innocent kid sick of being harassed by paranoid grandmasters. I don't know the truth, but either catch him the act or quiet down and let him play. Please no more published articles on this with zero proof.


Previous articles on Borislav Ivanov

3.10.2013 - The shoe assistant – Ivanov forfeits at Blagoevgrad
Everyone has heard about Borislav Ivanov, a lowly FM from Bulgaria, who since late 2012 has wowed the chess world with super-GM performances. Ivanov was suspected of computer cheating, and forty GMs are boycotting tournaments in which he plays. GM Max Dlugy is not one of them, but he insisted on a thorough check of his opponent before their game. You'll never believe what happened next.

08.1.2013 - Cheating scandal in Croatia – feedback and analysis
Recently we reported that the incredibly brilliant play by a 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian player at the Zadar Open in Croatia had raised suspicion that he might have been using illicit electronic assistance during his games. A number of readers criticised us – for linking to the mainstream Croatian media reports?! One of them, an expert in the field, actually analysed all the games in question.

17.1.2013 - Cheating scandal – Borislav Ivanov speaks out
Recently a 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian player scored 6.0/9 points in a strong GM tournament, with a 2697 performance. His opponents complained, he was searched, and no electronic equipment was found. Still, the case put chess on the front pages of the mainstream media, and led to intense discussions on the Internet. Now Ivanov has given the Russian news portal WhyChess an exclusive interview.

23.3.2013 - A Game of Chicken: Ivanov rides again
In the last weeks of 2012 he wowed the chess world with a 2700 performance. Two months later the new Bulgarian star FM Borislav Ivanov finished 88th in the Plovdiv, this time with a performance of 1970. Then came another enviable achievement, a clear win at the Villava rapid (again with a 2700 performance). What is going on? Alex Karaivanov speculates, with new video analysis by Valeri Lilov.

3.6.2013 - The show goes on: Ivanov in Kustendil
Borislav Ivanov is an FM who in the past months has been crushing GM hundreds of points stronger than himself. Bulgarian GMs, who suspect computer cheating, are now boycotting tournaments in which he appears, or chosing not to play their games against him. Ivanov has called them antisocial buttheads in newspaper interviews. Alex Karaivanov reports, with new video analysis by Valeri Lilov.

5.6.2013 - Experts weigh in on Ivanov's performance
Two days ago we reported on the crushing victories of a Bulgarian FM against top grandmasters and the suspicion that he was secretly using computer assistance to achieve his success. Extensive analysis of the games by Valeri Lilov made this seem quite plausible. In part two of our series we present the opinions of international experts and one of the GM victims, plus initial reader feeback.

19.6.2013 - Rombaldoni: "He never calculated moves"
The very talented Italian IM Axel Rombaldoni, aiming for a final GM norm, recently travelled to Bulgaria to play in a GM tournament. First he discovered that most of the grandmasters had cancelled their participation, and then in round seven he faced the reason for the cancellation: FM Borislav Ivanov, who has been accused of computer cheating. Alex tells us what it is like to play Ivanov.

11.7.2013 - Ivanov misses BCF anti-cheating test
The Borislav Ivanov saga continues. Recently the wonder chess player agreed to take part in a test, conducted by the Bulgarian Chess Federation, to prove the authenticity of his amazing new-found chess skills. In the end Ivanov simply did not appear at the appointed time. Meanwhile a 12-year-old player, student of a famous coach, was caught cheating, and FIDE is at last stirring into action.


Topics Cheating, Ivanov
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